The Basics for starting your curly hair journey
Updated: Feb 25
Hey lovely readers, welcome back to my blog.
Today I wanted to give you a list of the basic things you will need to get started on your curly hair journey.
I recently wrote a blog post about the 5 things you need to know before starting your curly hair journey, which is about understanding your hair’s makeup, texture and needs. So I would suggest reading this first as it will help you when making choices based off the below.
In terms of products and tools, there is A LOT out there. It can be pretty overwhelming.
Every curly girl will use a slightly different method, or different selection of products.
However, the fundamentals are quite standard and my suggestions is to start with the basics, master them and then you are free to experiment, explore new techniques, and try new products. With my blessing.
So if you are a curly newbie and not sure where to start, keep reading for the basics that you will need:
Note: When I say cleanser, I don’t just mean shampoo. In this context a cleanser is anything that cleans your hair.
Cleansing your scalp and hair isn’t just about preventing yourself from smelling like a wet dog, a good cleansing routine will also improve your hairs health and prevent damage.
However, it is important to know that most traditional shampoos contain sulphates (remember that word) which can be quite harsh on curly hair as it strips the hair of its natural oils and can be very drying.
Choice of cleansers create some (heated) debates amongst the curly community. If following the Curly Girl Method (CGM) you are restricted from using any sulphates and will either only co-wash (which is using a conditioner to wash your hair) or use shampoos that have no sulphates, widely regarded as ‘low-poo’ products.
This is something to consider when deciding on your cleanser as reducing the use of sulphates is proven as highly effective in curly hair.
So, if you go through your current collection and only have shampoos with sulphates then you may want to consider purchasing a new sulphate free shampoo or a co-wash.
With all that in mind, I am about to say something that is considered a little risqué …. I find that using a sulphate shampoo occasionally is beneficial!! Please don’t cancel me!
Using a sulphate shampoo from time to time is a great way to ensure that your hair is truly cleansed and rid of product build up.
I personally cleanse my hair every 7 – 10 days. I primarily use a sulphate free shampoo and may co-wash during the week if I need a refresh. Also every 4 weeks or so I will use a sulphate shampoo if I feel my hair needs a good clean or my scalp is itchy due to product build up. This is also as I personally still use some products with silicones which then need sulphates to remove. Another potentially controversial stand point!
Conditioners help to hydrate and reinvigorate your curls after using a cleanser. They also help with detangling and styling which is pretty important with curly hair.
I cannot imagine detangling my hair without product in to provide slip and this will generally be conditioner.
Conditioners are essential for curlies and choosing which ones to use will be based on your hair needs. Most products give you a good indication on what they are designed to do whether it is from hydration to repair to frizz control. So this is a good starting point.
Another thing to note when choosing your conditioner is whether you are following the CGM. If you are then you will need to avoid any conditioners with silicones, which is a lot of them. So read the labels before purchasing.
I would also suggest purchasing a deep conditioner to use every once in a while, to help repair and damage and give your hair a boost.
I personally try to use a deep conditioner at least once every 2 weeks and my hair is considered healthy at this point.
A leave – in conditioner
Whether or not you want to use a leave in depends on your preference…. BUT most curlies I know will use some sort of leave-in before styling to add extra moisture and ensure hair is full hydrated.
Curly hair is prone to dryness so ensuring maximum hydration is key to keeping your hair healthy. Therefore incorporating a leave in conditioner to your routine is a great idea.
There is a large selection of leave-ins on the market and you can make reasonable initial choices depending on your hair density and texture. People with finer hair and lower densities would use a lighter leave I, like a curling milk. However, those with a coarser texture and higher density will likely opt for the thicker butters and creams.
Leave-in’s will be your first styling product out of the shower. They are designed to provide moisture by penetrating the hairs cuticle. They are normally best applied to wet hair but some can be applied onto dry hair – as with everything read and follow the instructions.
This is what you will need to help you control the frizz, define your curls and provide hold so your curls can last as long as possible.
Stylers will provide some moisture but they are mainly designed to sit on top of the hair shaft, smoothing the frizz and aiding with defining the curls.
I have found that the biggest changes in my results came from using the right stylers. So don’t sleep on making the right choices here.
There are so many options out there for stylers from creams, butters, gels and mousses and there is no one size fits all. This stage will therefore require some trial and error to find out what works best for you.
Layering of styling products is widely accepted, however, if you are a beginner, start with one product and see what your results are, and then over time you can slowly experiment with layering if you feel you need more.
A point to note is that gels are great for hold and do not be fearful of how it ‘hardens’ your hair. This is called the ‘crunch’ and once your hair is dry you should be able to ‘scrunch this out’ giving you soft and frizz free curls.
I always shied away from gels, however they are personally one of my favourite stylers to ensure my curls last for as long as possible.
If you do not know already, standard cotton towels should never touch your beautiful crown! Keep those towels for your body babe, because you will be creating a frizzy mess.
Invest in a microfiber towel OR simply use an old cotton tshirt. I promise you the difference is immense.
Don’t get me wrong, I am not suggesting you can vigorously rub your head with either of these. That would be stupid. However, if you need to wrap your hair after leaving the shower or gently soak up excess water then only use one of these two to do this.
Drying your hair to avoid frizz was potentially one of my biggest roadblocks to eliminating frizz when I started out. I soon realised I was diffusing wrong. I have included a link to a good youtube video here to show you how best to diffuse your hair.
One vital thing to note for drying your hair is to avoid as much manipulation as possible. If airdrying, do not touch it with your hands until it is dry. If diffusing be careful not to scrunch and fluff until it is mostly dry.
One major issue that we all have to deal with is maintaining your hair overnight.
You cannot simply just go to sleep with curly hair and expect to wake up looking fresh and frizz free.
If I slept like I did before going curly I would wake up looking like a yeti. It is not a pretty sight and it would mean I would need to go through the whole process of styling once again.
So, for sleeping, you will want to purchase some silk/satin sleep accessories, such as pillowcases and bonnets. These are amazing for protecting your curls from frizz overnight as they work by creating less friction.
Additionally, if you have longer hair then pulling it up into a pineapple at the top of your head will also be beneficial to help prevent you losing the curl pattern.
As I mentioned earlier the best place to start is it master the basics. Get to know your hair, start using the right kind of products and figure out what works for you.
It’s a process guys! Which can at times be a long and frustrating one, but curly hair is beautiful, unique and fragile so nurture it and you will see amazing things.